In an ideal world, leaders get to handpick the best people to build the best teams – “A-Teams”. But here in the real world, recruiting top talent can be a long and difficult process . But results can’t wait: leaders of fast-growing teams often have to work hard to fine-tune their less-than-perfect cast of characters into the best possible team they can get.
Smart leaders figure out how to get the best out of team they are handed and try to shape it into the team they want. Just as financial investors use tools and frameworks to shape their portfolio of capital investments, smart leaders also apply tools to make smarter decisions about how to invest their own time and energy.
In our new book Lead Inside the Box – How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results, my co-author Mike Figliuolo and I present the Leadership Matrix, or “the box” for short.
The premise is that you need to evaluate the amount of output you get from a team member and compare that to the amount of time and energy you have to invest in them to get it. We call that time and energy your “leadership capital.” The comparison of personality types with expected levels of return on your leadership capital we call the “Leadership Matrix”.
Within the Matrix, we define performance patterns and personality types that team members demonstrate from “Square Pegs” to “Rising Stars” and everything in between. The real insight lies in practical advice on how to lead those folks to improve their performance.
With your understanding of your team members’ behaviors will and the expected return on your“Leadership Capital”, you’ll get a clearer picture of the 8 archetypical behaviors that can show up in the “Leadership Matrix”. Equipped with a better understanding of your team, you’ll learn where you should dial back your investment of leadership capital with some people on your team so you can invest more with others. Thanks to the Matrix, you’ll be in a strong position to lead with greater efficiency and bring about better overall team results.
Those archetypes are as follows:
- Exemplars (High Output, Low Input) can be categorized based upon their career aspirations. Some Exemplars want their great performance to provide them a stepping stone to larger roles and responsibilities. These are the “Rising Stars.” Other Exemplars are content remaining in their current roles. They’re experts and they’re satisfied with delivering outstanding results without much interference from their boss. These individuals are the “Domain Masters.”
- High Cost Producers (High Output, High Input) break into subtypes based on the kinds of costs they incur. Some get results but at the high cost of damaging team morale and destroying the goodwill you and your team have accrued with others. These individuals are the “Steamrollers.” High-Cost Producers who get results but require an inordinate amount of hand-holding from their leader to get them done are the “Squeaky Wheels.”
- Detractors (Low Output, High Input) are defined by the root cause of their performance issues. Some don’t have the skills they need to do their job. These individuals are the “Square Pegs.” We call Detractors who have the skills to do the job but they lack the will to do it the “Slackers.”
- Passenger (Low Output, Low Input) subtypes are determined by the kind of output they produce. Some only work to get their paycheck. They expend the bare minimum amount of effort required to keep getting paid. These are the behaviors of your “Stowaways.” Other Passengers exert a great deal of energy but they focus on tasks they want to do, not tasks you need them to do. We refer to Passengers behaving this way as “Joyriders.”
Once you have identified the behavioral-performance patterns present on your team, you will see your team in a new light. (You can use our simple online tool to assess your team using this framework.) Armed with these new insights, you can figure out the specific type of leadership each team member needs from you to improve their performance.
By seeing your team as a portfolio, you can also figure out where you should invest less of your time in some parts so you can shift it to invest more in other parts. In short, you will learn to get better results out of your team by working smarter, not harder, as a leader.
Victor Prince: Today’s guest post is by Victor Prince, co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (you can get your copy by clicking here). As the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Victor Prince helped build a new federal agency and led a division of hundreds of people. As a consultant with Bain & Company, he helped clients across the United States and Europe develop successful business strategies. Today, Victor is a consultant and speaker who teaches strategy and leadership skills to clients around the world.